Friday, June 10, 2011

Social Media: Friend or Foe

Earlier this week I spoke about the benefits of the social media impact to both readers and writers. The biggest impact is the interaction that social media creates. Many authors can be found on social media networks, which allows fans to connect with them and discuss books in forums, chat rooms, etc. This grows the community, making authors more human and relatable.

BUT, and yes there is a big BUT here. There are really two sides to every coin. With all the benefits that come with social media, there are also some downfalls. Today, authors must do more than just write a really great book. In order to become that big fish in the large publishing sea, writers must promote, network and develop a platform. If you haven’t read Kristen Lamb’s books, “We Are Not Alone-The Writers Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer” then once you’ve finished reading my blog, immediately click on those pretty blue hyperlinks. Seriously, I wish I would have read these prior to starting this blog but I didn’t. And many of you keep coming back to listen to my writerly (yep, I made up that word) rants, thoughts and Oscar stories. I agree with Kristen’s advice to not take on too many social media avenues. She recommends focusing on a blog, Twitter and Facebook. I have done this. In fact, I recently set up my author page on Facebook. You may “like” me here. But, I do take her social media advice a little further.

When I first got on Twitter I quickly figured out my favorite part of this new social media resource. Hands down, Twitter is my number one place for networking and finding craft articles. I could probably jump on Twitter every 30 minutes throughout a day and find at least 5-10 great craft articles or articles in general to read. That timeline is always moving, giving me new, current information to soak up.

While this is a good thing, I quickly found myself sucked into a world ruled by a little blue bird, patrolled by a whale and where writers can’t exceed 140 characters. I found that I was building a great network of people, learning much from their wisdom but the key to my success was suffering—I wasn’t as focused on my manuscript.

I learned from my mistake and I fixed it. I still benefit from the wealth of knowledge from Twitter and other social media sites, I’m just smarter about how I use them. Here is how I manage my social media.

Step 1: Click on interesting links from Twitter as you see them. DO NOT READ THEM! Open a blank word document and save the links you collect throughout the day.

Step 2: Set time limits for yourself when you are on a social media site. If need be, actually set a timer. Only you know the right amount of time to dedicate to social media without jeopardizing your writing. For me, I take a writing break at least every hour on the hour. During my break, I’ll hop on Twitter or Facebook; chat with a few people, retweet some worthy sounding articles by followers I trust and the get back to writing. Again, unless an article really jumps out at me, I save anything I want to read on my word doc.

Step 3: At the end of the day I look back over the articles that I have saved. I then, relax with a Disney mug of hot green tea and learn from my fellow peers. I find that learning something new is the best thing to end a day with. It doesn’t matter how much I struggled with a scene or how many times Baby Markey decided I didn’t need to work that day, reading and learning something new is refreshing. It sends me off to bed to dream of the fabulous, productivity that I will accomplish the next day, thanks to the fact that I’m always learning and improving.

So, is social media our friend or foe? Social media is the school gossip. You know the kid you could go to for all the gossip but you never wanted to give them a reason to dislike you. Social media can be a great resource and a fabulous way of getting you out there. But if misused, it will suck up your time until your goals are a fowl ball flying out of the ballpark and taking you further away you’re your overall goal. I keep a sticky note within eyesight to my desk at all times. On the sticky note is my long-term goal and latest short-term goal. By always keeping those in mind and seeing them, it makes it easier for me to hit the red circle at the top left of my web browser.

In summary: Save links you find from social media sites. DO NOT READ THEM. Set a time limit for yourself on how long you can be on social media sites and stick to it. Finish your day by reading and learning from the articles that you saved. And go buy Kristen Lamb’s books!


My book, “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog,” is out by Who Dares Wins Publishing. A percentage of the profits go to The Texas A&M Foundation to the benefit of the Neurology Section, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinarian Medicine. To learn more about the book, which is currently selling for $2.99, click here.

Weekly Blog Mash ups: For my first blog mash up I'm sharing some of my favorite people to follow. They know writing, the craft and the industry, If you're a writer, you must follow these blogs.

Write It Forward- Who Dares Wins Publishing

Ending Unplanned- Rachel Harris

Warrior Writer- Kristen Lamb

PW Creighton- Phillip Creighton

Piper Bayard- Piper Bayard

Anna Writes- Anna DeStefano


  1. Great post Natalie and thanks for the kind words. I always logon to SM first thing in the morning to do all the updates to Facebook and Twitter. I do pretty much what you're recommending. I save the articles for later in the day although there are so many posts I want to read that I've had to restrict myself to tuesdays and thursday article reads.

  2. Great minds think alike Phillip! Have a wonderful weekend and happy writing!

  3. Hi Natalie. I tried to post a comment last Friday. Since I don't see it here, I'm thinking something didn't work right.

    Twitter is definitely a major time sink. I find if I work on WIP first thing in the morning, though, before turning it on, I'm more likely to turn off the social media and go back to it during the day.

    I've been using your tip about storing blogs to read in the evening for the past few days, and that's working well.

    Thanks for the shout out, and thanks for the time management tip. :)